Six Local Hot Spots for Vegan Eats

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Sunday, March 5, 2006

Erica Meier is the executive director of Compassion Over Killing, an animal advocacy group that promotes a meatless diet. The nonprofit helps restaurants develop dishes and provides a list of those that serve vegetarian and vegan eats (go to http://www.vegdc.com/ to see the list or order the free guide). Here, Meier offers up her top picks for veg-friendly dining, plus specific vegan dishes to try.

ASYLUM. This 15-year-old biker bar has an "amazing vegan menu that includes a vegan brunch," Meier says (weekends from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.). She likes the French toast and pancakes ($4.75 each). Every day, Asylum offers vegan and "veganized" versions of pub grub -- add $1 to sub soy cheese in dishes like Chili Cheese Fries (regularly $5.75). Open Sunday, 10 a.m.-2 a.m.; Monday-Thursday, 5 p.m.-2 a.m.; Friday, 5 p.m.-3 a.m.; and Saturday, 10 a.m.-3 a.m. 2471 18th St. NW. 202-319-9353. http://www.asylumdc.com/ .

GREAT SAGE. Since 2004, this upscale restaurant has been serving American-style vegetarian and organic dishes, most of which are either vegan or can be prepared that way. Meier recommends the meatloaf (made with lentils and walnuts, and baked with barbecue sauce) with mashed potatoes and onion gravy ($13.99). "You cannot go there without getting a lava fudge cake," she says. Top it with soy, rice or dairy ice cream ($6.99). Open Tuesday-Thursday and Sunday, 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m.; and Friday-Saturday, 11:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m. 5809 Clarksville Square Dr., Clarksville. 443-535-9400. http://www.great-sage.com/ .

JAVA GREEN. This all-vegetarian eatery has a menu that's about 90 percent vegan. Meier says, "They make a Chicken Chili Wrap, which is perfect for lunchtime" (with mock chicken, greens, veggies and chili spices, $5.95). Another pick: Mock chicken drumsticks, complete with bamboo "bones" (three pieces for $3.95, six for $7.75 and 10 for $11.50). Open weekdays, 7 a.m.-8 p.m., and Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., with a vegan brunch Saturday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. 1020 19th St. NW. 202-775-8899. http://www.javagreen.net/ .

STICKY FINGERS. Meier issues this warning to those with a sweet tooth, vegan or not, who visit this Adams Morgan storefront: "You can't go in there without getting something." Meier loves the Cowvin Cookies, oatmeal cookie sandwiches filled with "white fluff stuff" (a vanilla "buttercream" frosting, $2.75). She also recommends the "amazing" cinnamon buns ($3). The bakery, 100-percent vegan, offers catering, and specialty items can be ordered. Open Sunday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; Tuesday-Friday, 8 a.m.-7 p.m.; and Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. 1904 18th St. NW. 202-299-9700. http://www.stickyfingersbakery.com/ .

SUNFLOWER. "I almost wish I could clone them," Meier says of the vegetarian Asian restaurant (about 80 percent of the dishes are vegan). Her pick: "A fried 'chicken' appetizer that lasts no more than 30 seconds after it's served. It's almost like popcorn chicken" ($5). Open daily, 11:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m. 2531 Chain Bridge Rd., Vienna. 703-319-3888. http://www.crystalsunflower.com/ .

VEGETABLE GARDEN. Meier says this all-vegetarian Chinese restaurant is a local favorite, and its extensive vegan menu offers numerous mock-meat dishes. "They have a General Tsao's Chicken that almost everyone I know routinely orders. It's a fabulous dish" ($12.79). Open daily, 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. 11618 Rockville Pike, Rockville. 301-468-9301. http://www.thevegetablegarden.com/ .

-- Christina Talcott


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